Wednesday, September 27, 2023

New Mexico Cannabis Company Wants More Women in Leadership Roles

Women-led High Desert Relief Works to Build Stronger Community


For Rolling Paper.’s inaugural Women in Cannabis column, we spoke with Sabrina Archuleta, Chief Operating Officer for legacy New Mexico cannabis company High Desert Relief. Archuleta talked about how the cannabis industry is changing for women in leadership roles and the work that still needs to be done as the industry continues to grow. 

The Rolling Paper.: How did you start working in the cannabis industry? 

Sabrina Archuleta: I started working for High Desert Relief in 2013 as a part time trimmer during monthly harvest. I was only working one week out of the month. I really liked the company because I felt as a patient, I was welcomed in a way that was more inviting rather than a doctor/patient relationship. My big goal way always to move up the ladder, and now it’s to make it to the CEO seat. 

How many women currently work for High Desert Relief? 

I’m really excited I know these numbers! Our leadership team is 70% women. We strive to make our budtender positions equal opportunity. When we do have Women deserve to have a voice in leadership and the ownership really encourages women to work their way up. I appreciate that our the ownership sees the value in having women on their leadership team. 

Was it a conscious decision to have the company be female led?

The industry is very male dominated, I don’t think it was a conscious decision to bring in more women, but as women we are more organized and we are thorough and make sure things get done. We are not limited here to just the role we occupy. 

What is it like to be a woman in the cannabis industry?

We’ve definitely started to build more of a community where we are supporting each other. A cover article in Newsweek Women in Weed. I was inspired and intrigued by that. Being a woman in cannabis is different than when I first started. I’ve been able to break a lot of stereotypes. We deserve to be in these roles because we make sound decisions. 

It’s refreshing to have a voice. 

I’m only 5 foot and 30 years-old and the men in this industry are always shocked when they first meet me and find out that I’m the one in charge. 

What can the industry do to attract more women? 

If we continue to build by group meetups or events we hold. We need to take the competitive idea of “mean girls” out of the industry. Women need to keep supporting other women. We can all be successful. 

We have multiple women who started with us and have started families, and we just want to encourage more of that so that women know they have a place in this industry. 

Where do you see the industry going? 

With legalization, New Mexico is going to continue to break stereotypes. The state has been welcoming for recreational cannabis. We are going to be able to reshape the way that New Mexicans think about cannabis. I think this industry is only going to continue to grow and hopefully have more female leaders in all companies. 

Are there plans for High Desert Relief to expand beyond Santa Fe and ABQ?

We are right now looking to expanding into southern NM. We’d like to expand into the southern metro area of the city as well. For us it’s not just about expanding, but expanding in a more intentional way to make sure we have the best product we can produce in the market for our patients. 


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